Whether you are unemployed and actively job searching or employed and looking to increase the number – and depth – of your professional connections, networking is key. But networking has changed a lot over the last several months.
Instead of meeting in person with a recruiter to discuss career prospects or inviting a professional connection to coffee to learn more about the projects they have been working on, everything is now virtual.
So how do you plan on making meaningful connections with those in a position to help you advance your career – despite the COVID-19 pandemic? The answer, of course, lies in networking.
Getting Started: Tips to Networking Successfully Online
Most networking today, especially given social distancing guidelines and other restrictions, takes place on LinkedIn. But before reaching out to expand your network, there are a handful of things you should do first, including:
Optimizing Digital Networking Opportunities
There are two general rules to follow when networking:
1. Make it part of your professional routine
2. Make it about the other person.
A big mistake most people make when it comes to networking is that they do it sporadically and when they do network, they make it all about themselves. Instead of approaching a networking opportunity with your agenda leading the conversation, consider asking what you can do for your new connection. If you are networking with a recruiter, for instance, instead of making the conversation only about you and your job search, consider offering to connect the recruiter to past colleagues you’d recommend who have complimentary skills to yourself. Or, recommending a LinkedIn group they would benefit from joining. Flip the script and watch how much further your networking efforts go.
When making a new connection, it’s also important to make the initial request clear and personal. LinkedIn did away with the pre-drafted messages when reaching out to a new connection. But instead of replacing it with something more personal, most are opting to not send a note at all. Don’t do this. Send a quick note (300 characters or less is the limit) explaining why you would like to connect. Not unlike when you meet someone in person for the first time, this short note is your first impression. Keep it concise and genuine and give it purpose.
As you build your network, you should be posting updates and sharing relevant professional content. Don’t just be a consumer, be a contributor to your network. If, after sending an initial connection request and follow-up message, a new connection does not respond, the content you post to your general feed can resurface your profile for that contact, creating the important top of mind awareness that can be difficult to come by in a crowded and busy digital world.
Looking to Build Your Network? Start First with a Recruiter
Recruiters are the ultimate networkers. And, connecting with a recruiter, whether you are actively job searching or not, means getting to see networking best practices firsthand. Not only will you be privy to the content they are posting, but making a recruiter connection means getting access to an individual who:
If nothing else, COVID-19 has brought people together in some really inspiring ways. We all have this shared experience we can relate to, which is why now is a great time to be making meaningful, personal connections with other hardworking professionals. Network with purpose and offer yourself up as a resource during these challenging – and changing – times.
Who will you get to know during this pandemic? Who will you meet while the world was put on pause? Find those connections and keep building your tribe.